LIBRARIES have been an integral part of the community for 100 years, after the first free book sharing service launched in Wiltshire in 1919.

In August of that year there was an Act of Parliament that enabled county councils to use funds to finance a library service, and Wiltshire was one of the first in the country to do this.

It was a totally mobile operation, with a building as a storage base, but books were distributed in ammunition boxes via a van that would drop them off at schools or community centres.

Melksham Library was the county’s first purpose built library and opened in September 1964. Now, a century on, there are 31 libraries in towns and cities across Wiltshire and while still promoting the joy of picking up a book, libraries are ever increasingly moving digital.

To celebrate the centenary, Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre has released a series of snapshots of libraries from across the area.

Rebecca Bolton has worked across Wiltshire’s libraries for a decade.

She said: “Despite the changes, lots of things have stayed the same. People still come to the library knowing they will have a friendly welcome and it is somewhere they can go to speak to staff with the knowledge to help them.

“We still have a big focus on children and there are still resource hubs that work with schools.

“We now register babies with their own library card from birth.”

Last year libraries hosted 1,760 activities for adults, from author visits to games clubs and techy tea parties, for people to get to grips with changing technology. These are vital to tackle many social issues, Rebecca continued.

“We have a much wider community remit today than libraries in the past.

We are a hub for people to catch up and interact.

“We even have a section with information about health conditions for people to find out more.”